February 1, 2010
Ohioans for Humane Farms Petitions for Anti-Cruelty Measure
Ohioans for Humane Farms submitted a petition—including signatures from Ohio voters in 48 counties, demonstrating broad and regionally diverse support—to Ohio's Attorney General in support of placing an anti-cruelty measure on the statewide November ballot. The proposed measure would allow voters to require the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board to adopt certain minimum standards that will prevent the cruel and inhumane treatment of farm animals, enhance food safety, protect the environment and strengthen Ohio family farms.
Utilizing a large volunteer base, the group will seek to collect more than 600,000 signatures of registered Ohio voters upon approval of the petition forms by the Secretary of State. The ballot measure is backed by The Humane Society of the United States, Farm Sanctuary, Ohio SPCA, Ohio Sierra Club, Geauga Humane Society, Ohio League of Humane Voters, Center for Food Safety, United Farm Workers, Consumer Federation of America, Center for Science in the Public Interest, and a growing list of organizations.
This measure will allow Ohio voters to provide guidance to the newly enacted Livestock Board and set certain minimum humane standards that will prevent cruel factory farming practices in Ohio, including:
- Extreme confinement in tiny cages for months on end: Tens of thousands of veal calves, 170,000 breeding pigs, and approximately 27 million egg-laying hens in Ohio are confined in cages and crates so restrictive the animals can barely move an inch for virtually their whole lives. Many don't even have enough room to stretch their limbs or turn around.
- Allowing "downer cows" to enter the human food chain: Allowing sick and injured animals into the food supply threatens public health and food safety. Cows too sick or injured to stand or walk on their own to slaughter should be humanely euthanized, not inhumanely dragged or pushed while being shocked and beaten onto the kill floor to be used for human consumption.
- Inhumane methods of euthanasia for sick and injured animals: In Ohio, a factory farmer was videotaped killing sick pigs by hanging them execution-style from a tractor, leaving them to writhe in the air for minutes on end. He was acquitted of cruelty for the hangings, a verdict Ohio's agribusiness community hailed as a "huge victory," because Ohio has no law specifically requiring humane farm animal euthanasia methods.
The Board would have six years to implement these minimum standards, allowing producers ample time to transition to more humane systems. If the measure is enacted, Ohioans for Humane Farms hopes that the Livestock Board would immediately adopt minimum standards that address euthanasia and downer animals.
"We wouldn't cram our pets into cages barely larger than their bodies for their entire lives, and we shouldn't subject farm animals to this inhumane and unacceptable confinement either," stated Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. "All animals deserve humane treatment, including animals raised for food."
"Mahatma Gandhi said you can judge a nation by the way it treats its animals. As a veterinarian, I am duty-bound to protect the human-animal bond, and by supporting this measure, we as a state and nation will be improving the lives of animals," states Cleveland veterinarian Brian Forsgren, DVM.
"Ohioans oppose cruelty and believe that all animals, including farm animals, deserve to be protected," said Gene Baur, president of Farm Sanctuary. "In November, Ohioans will have the opportunity to make their voices heard and phase out some of the worst factory farm abuses."
Michigan recently became the latest state to adopt reforms, providing farm animals with more space to turn around and extend their limbs, passing a measure in its state legislature in 2009 very similar in form to the Ohio proposal. Similar laws also have been enacted in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Maine and Oregon.
The HSUS has more than 400,000 Ohio supporters. Farm Sanctuary is the nation's leading farm animal protection organization.
- In March 2009, HBO documentary Death on a Factory Farm revealed appalling mistreatment of pigs on an Ohio factory farm, including immobilization inside tiny crates and the killing of pigs by hanging them execution-style.
- Across Ohio, crated calves are tethered by the neck and can barely move, pigs in severe confinement bite the metal bars of their crates, and hens can get trapped and even impaled in their wire cages. There is overwhelming science demonstrating that such extreme confinement is detrimental to the animals' welfare.
- Caging animals in high densities leads to higher concentrations of animal waste and air and water pollution, as well as a greater risk of disease transmission such as Salmonella.
For more information, visit ohiohumane.com.
Erin Williams, The HSUS, 301-721-6446, firstname.lastname@example.org
Meredith Turner, Farm Sanctuary, 646-369-6212, email@example.com